That wild, free-for-all spirit is part of the kick of FronteraFest
The hidden lives of flight attendants. And artists. And actors who do children's theatre.
The confessions of an obsessive Queen fan.
The epic struggle of the Greatest Actors in the Universe.
Cowgirl puppets. Ancient nymphs. Einstein's brain.
Where else will you find such oddities and wonders but FronteraFest, the annual jamboree of homegrown performance where anyone and everyone is encouraged to take the stage with whatever moves them, be it self-written monologue, interpretive dance, or hip-hop. Anything goes at FronteraFest, which is part of what makes it such a kick. Theatrical styles and disciplines jostle against one another; experienced writers and actors bump against amateurs making their debuts. Experimentation abounds, as does courage and not a little folly. The unrestrained variety, with that free-for-all spirit and personal stake on the part of those on the stage, exhilarates. Seeing so many people taking risks is a perfect way to start a new year.
So now's the time to work out what to see and when. This year's Short Fringe – the traditional showcase of pieces 25 minutes or less – runs Jan. 15-Feb. 16, Tuesday-Saturday, at Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd. As always, the Saturday program offers the Best of the Week, culled from works presented Tuesday through Friday, and the fifth week features pieces judged Best of the Fest. Each Wednesday will feature a piece commissioned by the playwrights organization Austin Script Works: "Apocalypse," by Elizabeth Cobbe (Jan. 16); "Larius Likler," by Aimée Gonzales (Jan. 23); "Parents Are People," by Sarah Saltwick (Jan. 30); and "How Little Has Changed," by Max Langert (Feb. 7).
The 2008 Long Fringe offers 11 full-length productions running Jan. 22-Feb. 3 at the Blue Theater, 916 Springdale, with one show at the Hideout, 617 Congress. Plus, there's Mi Casa Es Su Teatro, a host of original works performed in homes around Austin on Saturday, Feb. 9. Tickets are $3 per show and will be sold at the door on a cash-only basis. For information, call 479-PLAY, the FronteraFest hotline at 236-7511, or visit www.hydeparktheatre.org.
SHORT FRINGE AT HYDE PARK THEATRE
Tuesday, Jan. 15
"My Vagina and I Are Not on Speaking Terms," by Nettie Hartsock. Monologue from "I'll take the husband and kids with a vagina on the side to go" work in progress.
Buddy Daddy. Arthur Simone is joined onstage by his dog, Robin Goodfellow, for improvised scenes.
"Junky Central, USA," by Elizabeth Krieg, choreographed by RAD. News report of the state of the nation through the eyes of our favorite junkies.
"The Weiner Chronicles," by Alex Garza. Monologues by Alex Garza that dare to rationalize the enigma that is man's phallic dependence.
"My Ballet for Dog and Red-Haired Girl," by Hank Schwemmer. An open window and a long way down.
Wednesday, Jan. 16
"Apocalypse," by Elizabeth Cobbe (an Austin Script Works commission). The world is coming to an end. Oops!
"Stand" and "Son of the Lizard King," by Jason Tremblay. Theatre Silica presents two acclaimed plays that will "steal about 10 minutes of your life."
"A Genuine Plea to My Insides," by Kelli Bland. A dialogue between the performer and her body.
"My Junior," by Anne Boyd. A young mother tries to save her son from the future she believes he is predestined to lead because of his race.
"Cry Havoc Stage Combat," by Uprise! Productions. Warriors explore revolution using ancient customs and modern displays of physicality.
Thursday, Jan. 17
Improv for Evil. Scene-based improvised comedic piece inspired by audience suggestion.
"This Dream Is Short, But This Dream Is Happy," by Sean Tribe. A monologue about Las Vegas, redemption, graduate school, and a gnostic goddess.
"Trigger Happy Jack," by Timothy Braun. A dream that leaves a girl with a decision to make.
"Wayne's Big Body Part," by Kelly Estes. Angry Little Theatre presents a short piece about a big piece.
"Moving Parts Due to Lubrication," by Sue Bilich and Abby November with Sandy Simon and Mary Elizabeth. Three psychotherapists discuss intimate moments about their patients.
Friday, Jan. 18
"Kawaisoo (The Pity of Things)," by Jason Grote. Capital T Theatre presents a one-woman show about America's commodity fetishism in the wake of 9/11.
"Relativity and Mr. Underfoot," by Hal Fulton. A research lab borrows Einstein's brain, but things don't go as planned.
"Brain Big," by Priscilla Sample. A monologue excerpted from a play about female body image.
"A Meta-Murder Mystery," by Patton Quinn, Kerri Lendo, and Seth Johnson. Comedy/variety.
"Princess Press-On," by Allison Landa. In Munich, at the Hotel Italia, the author finds a Nigerian royal drinking a German beer and extending a dicey invitation.
Saturday, Jan. 19
Best of the Week
Tuesday, Jan. 22
"Joe Normal," by Mark Farias. Exploration of the nature of heroism and society's acceptance of its absence.
Look Cookie. Local improv troupe with a twist.
One A.M. Chris Trew and Tami Nelson of ColdTowne perform two-person improv based off of one suggestion.
"Something for Odile." Theatre Silica presents works by 12 playwrights written for Odile Nicole Del Giudice.
"Video Vixen." Uprise! Productions' piece explores the perception, role, and expectation of the video vixen.
Wednesday, Jan. 23
"Larius Likler," by Aimée Gonzalez (an Austin Script Works commission). A man whose name is almost an anagram for "serial killer" decides almost to become one.
"Suspicious Package," by Jason Vines and Matt Pollock. Improvised piece deconstructing a pair of monologues.
"Amusing Karl," by Francisco Rodriguez. As Thalia strives to seduce Karl Marx, she discovers that her biggest competition is his typewriter.
"The Diary of a Mad Cat Wrangler," by Alex Garza and Gwendolyn Kelso. Comedy about the trials and tribulations of performing children's theatre.
"The Nymph," by Tim Thomas. Loaded Gun Theory presents a scene involving an ancient nymph who ensnares and enchants a mother and a daughter.
Thursday, Jan. 24
"Austin 3275," by Stuart Hersh. A story of race relations in Austin in July 1932 just as Prohibition is ending.
Get Up. Master improvisers Shannon McCormick and Shana Merlin present an improvised story.
"The Ballad of the Three Actorteers," by Alan Metoskie, Jason Newman, and Chuck Watkins. The three greatest actors in the universe struggle to perform challenging plays sent to them from the gods of theatre.
"Sublet," by Deborah Goldstein and Andrea Middleton. Living with a stranger.
"Dale Duncan," by Chris Sykes. An attempt at a positive outlook on cynicism.
Friday, Jan. 25
"The Startling Story of My Not Suicide as Told by the Creepy Suicide Story Guy," by Paul B. Joiner. In the hope that others might learn from my mistakes.
"That Diana Look," by Maggie Gallant. Character monologues by writer/performer Gallant.
"_______ the Musical!" by Girls Girls Girls. Austin's only all-female, all-musical improv troupe makes up a musical on the spot based on a suggested location.
"The Wager," by Janet Heimlich. Ex-con Eugene tries to teach his gambling-addict son a life-changing lesson. Adapted from "The Gambler," by Austin's Joe O'Connell.
"A Breathing Machine for Carmella Beautain," by Rebecca Wadlinger. An autopsy looks to be a routine procedure, but then ...
Saturday, Jan. 26
Best of the Week
Tuesday, Jan. 29
"A Life for Love and Pleasure: Remembering Mata Hari," by Miriam Robinson Gould. One-woman show about the woman known to history as the legendary spy.
"The Artist Behind Closed Doors," by Jessica Arnold. An intimate look at the artist behind closed doors, with hand puppets, granny panties, and baby Jesus.
"Pushkin Ploshit!" by Shelia Gordon. The life of an American woman in Moscow: boiling sinkholes, asphalt deathtraps, and conversations with the statue Pushkin.
Unscripted Narrative Theatre. Parallelogramophonograph creates a story right before the audience's eyes.
"Talk to Me Like the Rain," by Tennessee Williams. A love story for four people.
Wednesday, Jan. 30
"Parents Are People," by Sarah Saltwick (an Austin Script Works commission). Two comedic plays about parties, Paris, cell phones, and secrets.
"Based on the Lives of True American Heroes," by Jesse Donaldson. A middle-management wireless employee, a motherland security agent, and a janitor are trapped in a warehouse plagued by an infestation of holes.
"Group Therapy," by Espie Randolph. Character-driven sketch comedy.
"A Necklace for Each of My Lovers," by Meghan Dwyer. A play about the memories our body continues to wear after the people who created them have long gone.
"Play It by Ear," by Leticia Rodriguez with musicians Eric Calistri and Gerard Villanueva. West Austin meets West Side Story.
Thursday, Jan. 31
"Plum," by Cris Edwards. No known intentions.
I Snood Bear. Improvised theatre by Wesley Bain and Christina de Roos, with atypical storytelling technique, dramatic comedy, and realistic characters.
"Grading on a Curve," by A.V. Phibes. A monologue concerning a bored artist with cannibalistic tendencies.
"Stewardess," by Don Corr. A comedy about love lost at 20,000 feet.
"The Wussy Boy Chronicles Episode Four: A New Hope," by Eirik Ott. Performance poetry, dramatic monologue, storytelling, and sketch comedy by Big Poppa E.
Friday, Feb. 1
"The Pinpricks," by Dolores Judith Diaz with acknowledgments to Allen Lea. A piece about the power, and sometimes tragedy, of storytelling.
"Informal Conversación," by Jennifer Salazar.
"How to Get Rich," by Tommy Levrier. An overeducated and unemployed married couple learns how to get rich from their neighbor, who they suspect is Howard Hughes.
"The Perfect Snowball," by Candyce Rusk. Early evening in a Midwestern town, three kids and 10 snowballs.
Lovey & Lovey. ColdTowne's Tami Nelson and Michael Jastroch present sketch comedy about a ridiculous, booze-addled relationship.
Saturday, Feb. 2
Best of the Week
Tuesday, Feb. 5
"Vivid," by Kirsten Davis. Solo piece that explores the dichotomy between our soul and our sense of duty.
"Honor," by Austin Alexander. A Syrian family struggles with the dishonor brought upon it by the teenaged daughter who has been raped.
"The Triumphant Return of the Haiku Deathmatch!!!" by Eirik Ott. Full-contact poetry as three haiku warriors engage in head-to-head poetic combat.
"The Well," by Erin Phillips.
Scissor. Guest improviser Justin York creates improvised scenes in the "scissor" form, his own invention.
Wednesday, Feb. 6
"How Little Has Changed," by Max Langert (an Austin Script Works commission). A PowerPoint presentation in seven parts.
"Starting Roger Taylor," by Maggie Gallant. Solo confession by an obsessive, lifelong Queen fan.
"The One, the Only ... the Fabi: An Infomercial," by Rhonda Kulhanek. Infomercial unveiling the Life-Changing, Revolutionary Fabi!
"The Proud Pornographer," by Kyle Schmidt.
"Blacklisted Individuals." Uprise! Productions presents hip-hop for the working man, blending spoken word, stage combat, and rap.
Thursday, Feb. 7
"Just Say Da: Direct Object," by Jamie Rhodes, Jude Hickey, Kirk German, Lisa del Rosario, Michelle Brandt, Robin Grace Thompson, Scott Roskilly, Tom Coiner, and Heather Huggins. Eight storytellers are unleashed on a stage with a backpack, an exercise bungee, a picture frame, a rolling pin, a pair of pajama pants, two coffee mugs, an Austin Chronicle, and a dozen pencils.
"Click," by Allan Baker. Saturday night online. What are you looking for? What will you find?
"The Eat 'n' Out," by Fred Jones, Zachary Claxton, Douglas Spearman, and Eddie Shannon. Come on down to Mr. Burgher. Home of the Yummy. It's fast. It's food. It's fast food. It's delicious.
"The Cowgirl Mary Puppet Theatre Show," by RoHo Theatre Company. Puppet show with live actors and music.
"Arts and Crafts," by Annie La Ganga. Monologue about hobbies you can do for fun or profit, including cake-decorating, creative writing, and cyclical depression.
Friday, Feb. 8
"Ben Prager," by Ben Prager. Monologues written and performed by Prager.
"The Cosmo & Gigi," by Isabella Russell-Ides. In this partial homage to Godot, Gigi's got Cosmo like a habit, and she'll never get enough.
"1 + 1 + 1," by Zeb West, Hannah Kenah, and Richard Cambier. Three actors play three characters in three scenes four you.
"Work in Progress," by Natalie Goodnow. An exploration – enjoy!
"CoochieMagik: A Spoken Word Musical Comedy," by Christa Bell. Excerpt from a ritual solo performance resisting the attack on women in mainstream hip-hop and mass media.
Saturday, Feb. 9
Best of the Week
LONG FRINGE AT THE BLUE THEATRE
You Are Happier Than You Think: Recalibrating Your Emotional Scale
(Max Langert) (60 min.) Max Langert's play concerns an esteemed lecturer invited to give a happiness seminar aboard an ocean liner. But his daughter has a compulsion to throw people overboard, his wife has run out of anti-depressants, and both the captain and first mate have a curious desire to help him file for divorce.
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 9pm; Thursday, Jan. 31, 9:15pm; Saturday, Feb. 2, 6:15pm; Sunday, Feb. 3, noon
Luna Tart Died (of a broken heart)
(Laura Freeman) (75 min.) One woman. One ukulele. One long-suffering pianist. One hourlong musical spiral into loneliness and despair. A full-length version of the FronteraFest Best of the Fest 2007 cabaret musical. Written by and starring Laura Freeman. Directed and co-written by Rudy Ramirez. Datri Bean accompanies. Wednesday, Jan. 23, 9:15pm; Friday, Jan. 25, 7pm; Saturday, Jan. 26, 10:30pm; Saturday, Feb. 2, 4:15pm
Dance Carousel 2008
(Spank Dance Company) (75 min.) Forty dances in 40 minutes by 10 local choreographers, each of whom creates four one-minute dances. Tuesday, Jan. 22, 7pm; Saturday, Jan. 26, 8:30pm; Monday, Jan. 28, 8:45pm; Saturday, Feb. 2, 2:15pm
(Surface Tension Dance Group) (90 min.) In its debut production, this collaborative company of dancers with musicians and visual artists explores the theme of lost and found literally, abstractly, personally, and spiritually. Athletic yet sensual movement is supported and layered by text, composition, photography, and props.
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 7pm; Saturday, Jan. 26, noon; Sunday, Jan. 27, 8:15pm; Sunday, Feb. 3, 5:30pm
Devil in the Details: An Office Musical
(Rain Nox) (75 min.) A kindhearted geek becomes embroiled in a crazy love triangle – between him, a co-worker, and his computer – while the fate of the company rests in his hands. A satirical look at office life, mixed with a little sci-fi and a lot of romance.
Thursday, Jan. 24, 7pm; Sunday, Jan. 27, noon; Tuesday, Jan. 29, 8:45pm; Sunday, Feb. 3, 3:30pm
Sad, Sad, Sad: Parts 1 & 2
(You're Wicked! Repertory Theatre Company) (90 min.) Two one-acts by Duncan Coe and Nigel O'Hearn. Four men working in a military research facility in Nevada steal a newly developed bomb and prepare it for a very different use. Two men from purgatory are ordered to assassinate God in exchange for another shot at living. Monday, Jan. 21, 9:15pm; Saturday, Jan. 26, 2:15pm; Thursday, Jan. 31, 7pm; Saturday, Feb. 2, 10:15pm
The Mommy Confessions
(Rhonda F. Kulhanek) (90 min.) Kulhanek's one-woman show features 12 characters struggling to survive their maternal lives, including a "memaw" raising her grandkids who confesses to Jesus, a former beauty queen who comes clean at Mommies Anonymous, and an unwed mother-to-be who confides in her unborn son. Monday, Jan. 21, 7pm; Sunday, Jan. 27, 2pm; Friday, Feb. 1, 9:15pm; Saturday, Feb. 2, 8pm
Jack and the King
(The Striking Players) (60 min.) Austin Alexander's topical satire questions authority while making fun of it. Tyrannical president, er ... "King" George II shipwrecks on a seemingly deserted island, where he is taught the error of his ways by the devious Jack and other whimsical characters. Directed by Sesar Sandoval. Saturday, Jan. 26, 4:30pm; Monday, Jan. 28, 7pm; Friday, Feb. 1, 11:30pm; Sunday, Feb. 3, 7:45pm
Prepare for Arrival and Cross Check
(Steve Barney) (60 min.) Barney's new work is based on the real-life experiences of flight attendants. It's all here: atrocious passenger behavior, heartless airline management, post-9/11 flying – even a glimpse of the divine as seen through this bizarre profession's eyes. Friday, Jan. 25, 9pm; Sunday, Jan. 27, 6:30pm; Tuesday, Jan. 29, 7pm; Sunday, Feb. 3, 1:45pm
i google myself
(Capital T Theatre) (90 min.) Jason Schafer's comedic thriller has three different men with the same name – a lonely stalker, a gay porn star, and a stoner mechanic – brought together by an Internet search engine. But what starts as a curiosity turns into an obsession that makes these three men's worlds violently collide. Friday, Jan. 25, 10:45pm; Sunday, Jan. 27, 4:15pm; Wednesday, Jan. 30, 9:15pm; Friday, Feb. 1, 7pm
(University of Texas doctoral & MFA students in Playwriting & Performance as Public Practice) (90 min.)
Michelle Dvoskin, Kristin Leahey, Elizabeth McKetta, Priscilla Sample, and Meg Sullivan portray diverse iconic women (Virginia Woolf, Joan Nestle, Zelda Fitzgerald, Margo Jones, and Margaret Bourke-White) in separate solo performances that delve into issues of desire and pleasure, illness and remembrance, race and identity, research and archive, love and memory. Thursday, Jan. 24, 9pm; Saturday, Jan. 26, 6:15pm; Wednesday, Jan. 30, 7pm; Saturday, Feb. 2, noon
BRING YOUR OWN VENUE
At The Hideout
Shoeless or the Advantages of Not Knowing Exactly Where You Are Going
(Unknown Citizens) (75 min.) Who Am I? Is America's favorite game show. The stakes are too horrible to even talk about. The prize is a ridiculous compensation considering the infamy. Dreams shattered. Identities destroyed. Now that's entertainment. By Devin Moss, Bree Perlman, and Donald Berthelme. Saturday, Jan. 26, 8pm; Thursday, Jan. 31, 8pm; Friday, Feb. 1, 8pm; Saturday, Feb. 2, 8pm